Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eiffel Tower

The most iconic image of Paris is the Eiffel Tower or Tour Eiffel as the locals call it. Built from 1887 to 1889 for the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889, it was supposed to stand only twenty years. Several people, including the author Guy de Maupassant and the architect of the Paris Opera, thought it was an eyesore and protested its construction. With the advent of radio, its usefulness as an antenna tower guaranteed its continued existence. The tower has survived a lightning strike in 1902 and a demolition order from Hilter in 1944 when his troops had to retreat from Paris (the German general refused to destroy the tower and other iconic monuments as he had been ordered).

Eiffel Tower

The tower is 300 meters (985 feet) tall and the tallest structure in Paris. It was the tallest structure in the world until 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York City was completed at 319 meters (1047 feet) (which was then surpassed by the Empire State Building the next year).

We approached it from the Champs de Mars metro stop along the river Seine. We had a nice view of the Palais de Chaillot across the river.

Palais de Chaillot

At the base of the tower we had some fine views of the structure. We also had to wait in a long queue for tickets to ride up to the observation floors. We saw a bust of Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), the architect for the tower.
Closer to the tower and the line

The tower from underneath

Gustave Eiffel

J and L were very excited to ride the elevator up once we finally made it through the line.

Riding up

Happy children

Three levels in the tower offer visitors the chance to look over Paris. The first elevator ride takes visitors past the first level at 57 meters (187 feet) and lets passengers out at the second level, 115 meters (376 feet) up. Another queue for the other elevator leads to the very top. We stayed on the second level and explored a bit. The kids found it terribly windy and cold. Their favorite discovery was the snow globe in the gift shop that had a mini-Eiffel Tower with gold snowflakes.

My wife and I enjoyed the views of Paris, even though we were separated by keeping the kids in shelter. My camera died and I had to switch to my cell phone camera, the lens of which must have had some smudge on the left side. Here's what I saw.

Paris with Montmatre and Sacre-Couer in the distance

Palais de Chaillot again

View south along the Champs de Mars

The shiny Seine

I was surprised to see our old friend, padlocks from romantic couples, on the tower. I guess that tradition is all over Europe.

Lovers' Locks

We did not go all the way to the top because we thought the kids would not enjoy another long line and we were starting to get hungry. Rather than eat at the expensive and swanky Jules Verne Restaurant on the second level, we took the elevators back down. They stopped at the first level in case anyone wanted to get off but we stayed on to the end.

We loved our visit. I'd probably go back again if we ever visit Paris to see it lit up at night. They have a special light show on the hour after dark which would be great to see as well. There's always more to see!

No comments:

Post a Comment